To celebrate Purim, I always make hamantaschen…one of my favorite cookies! Much like a thumbprint cookie, these jam filled treats are a delectable dessert any day of the week or at your Purim feast.
What is Purim, you ask? There was this bad dude named Haman during the ancient Persian Empire. Haman was the royal vizier to King Ahasuerus. So… Ahasuerus gets loaded at a party and after making ridiculous demands of his wife, Vashti…who refuses and then he’s like, GIRL BYE…he then has all the fair ladies of land paraded before him so he can choose his new bride. One of these women is Esther, who lives with her first cousin Mordecai. The King makes her his new bride and Esther, wisely, decides not to reveal the fact that she is Jewish to him. Fast forward to Haman’s appointment to viceroy…the title totally goes to his head and he’s prancing around demanding everyone bow down to him and whatnot. Mordecai refuses and Haman gets his panties in a twist. Haman finds out Mordecai is Jewish and is like, “I’m going to kill him. And not only am I going to kill him, but I’m going to kill all the Jews in the empire.” Haman has issues. Haman convinces the King to back him and to decide when he’s going to put his evil plan into action, he casts lots (“purim”) to choose the date. Esther finds out what’s going on…but she’s afraid to approach the King. Her cousin Mordecai is the voice of reason and suggests that she was elevated to her position as Queen for the very purpose of saving the Jews. She has a change of heart after fasting and praying for three days and she invites the King and Haman to attend a feast. At the feast, they are having a great time so Esther says…”let’s do this again tomorrow!” Meanwhile, Haman is building gallows to hang Mordecai the next day…the King can’t sleep and is like, “let me go over the books”…and he realizes he never did anything special for Mordecai back when he discovered a plot to assassinate the King. So…the King goes to his viceroy and says, “Dude. What should I do to honor a man who has performed great service to his King?” And Haman, with his huge ego, assumes that the King is talking about him (natch). So he’s like, “put him in royal robes, parade him around like he’s super important on a horse, and make the people cheer for him.” Imagine how pissed Haman is when he realizes that the honor is then bestowed upon the guy with enough balls to stand up to him and refuse to bow! Finally, Haman and the King go to the final night of the feast with Esther and she’s like, “B-T-dubs, guys – I’m Jewish. Oh, and honey, Haman is trying to murder me and all my peeps.” The King is like, “Haman…you’re a dick. As punishment, you will be hanged on the very gallows that you erected for Mordecai.” That was kind of a long story, but juicy, no? Esther saves the day, Mordecai becomes the King’s second in command and we all get to eat HAMANTASCHEN!
I always thought that the triangle shape was because Haman wore a three pointed hat. That’s what I remember from the folklore of my youth, anyway. Wikipedia has other theories if you are interested, but let’s get on to the good stuff!
I recommend making the filling first (it takes a bit of time to set up – a few hours at least) and then move onto the dough!
Lemon Hamantaschen Dough
(I just adapted a standard recipe to include lemon)
1 cup of salted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions. Add the lemon juice and zest. Stir in the flour, mixing just until combined. Chill the dough until firm (wrapping in cellophane or parchment paper).
Roll out dough to 1/8″ thickness and cut out 2″ circles. Use a spatula to transfer the circles to a parchment lined sheet pan. Spoon a 1/2 tbsp. of filling (we’ll get to that in a minute) into each circle and pinch together the sides to make a triangle shape.
Here is a little step-by-step picture tutorial of shaping the hamantaschen (HINT: you don’t want to simply pinch the ends together – you’ll get a leaky cookie – you want to fold the flaps over each other):
Place the hamantaschen on the parchment lined baking sheet so that each is about an inch apart from the others (I put mine closer together, but they don’t spread much) Let’s say an inch as better safe than sorry. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden on the edges and darker golden on bottom.
Lemon Blueberry Jam
(Courtesy of Taste of Home)
4 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups sugar
1 package (3 oz) lemon gelatin
In a large saucepan, slightly crush 2 cups of blueberries. Add remaining berries and sugar, mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Pour hot jam into jars or containers. Cover and cool. Refrigerate.
I had some little jam containers that I had washed and saved, so I just poured the jam right into those to cool in the fridge.
You can use whatever filling you want…lemon curd, apricot jam, strawberry jam, or even orange marmalade. Get creative and enjoy!